Well, well, well. It looks like being anti-gay isn't exactly something folks want to associate their names with after all - even after they've associated their money. In a righteous reversal of fortune, gays are coming out of the closet at the same time folks who donated to pass Proposition 8 in California are trying to squeeze themselves in.
Lawyers for the pro-Prop. 8 group had requested a preliminary injunction to keep secret the names of 1,600 late-stage donors to the anti-gay measure.
Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Prop. 8, said "We have nothing to hide here." He failed to add, "Except our shameful selves."
Schubert and company said that donors who have already had their names made public, as is required by law for anyone who gives over $100, have had people get angry at them. And folks who haven't had their names revealed should be protected from that fate.
On Jan. 29, U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. said hell no to all that.
"The court finds the state is not facilitating retaliation by compelling disclosure," England said. "If there's ever a need to bring sunshine on a political issue, it is with a ballot measure."
According to the Sacramento Bee, "The Yes on 8 campaign submitted declarations by donors who claimed they have been harassed by e-mails, phone calls, postcards and even received death threats."
"Some gay activists have organized Web sites to actively encourage people to go after supporters of Proposition 8," said Schubert told the New York Times. "And giving these people a map to your home or office leaves supporters of Proposition 8 feeling especially vulnerable. Really, it is chilling."
First of all, let me just make clear that it's despicable to make death threats against someone who donated money to the Yes on 8 campaign. Or vandalize their property. Or send them powder in the mail. Bottom line: acting like an asshole does not a civil rights movement make.
However, these kinds of incidents are extreme examples that in no way represent the bulk of the backlash Prop. 8 supporters have seen.
It is not "harassment," for example, to boycott a business, which gay groups have done and have every right to do. If a gay couple doesn't want to shop at John Doe's retail outlet after learning that John Doe has donated to take away their right to marry, they have every right to take their business elsewhere. And should. Same goes for Prop. 8 supporters. If they don't want to spend their anti-gay dollars at pro-gay establishments, well, then they can do all of their shopping with Amway.
It's ironic that so many anti-gay folks use the term "special rights" to describe any protections or rights at all for LGBT people, and yet here they are asking for precisely that for themselves.
"This fight is really about how donors to a future campaign (against gay marriage) will be treated," Schubert said. "We are committed to ensuring that supporters of traditional marriage can do so without fear of intimidation and harassment."
Except they can't. Neither can supporters of marriage equality expect to keep on fighting without "fear of intimidation and harassment." And they've gotten plenty, some of it enshrined by law. No, Prop. 8 supporters, that's not the way it works. Taking a stand has always meant taking a risk. Just ask Harvey Milk, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or Jesus. Sure, these are extreme examples, but I can't imagine any of these men saying, "Yeah, I strongly support this cause, I just don't want anybody to know about it."